Given that we have been living in Tbilisi for over a year now (time flies!), I figured it’s high time I perfect some of my Georgian recipes to share with you. Georgian food is – well, how can I put this mildly? AMAZING. It’s dense, loaded with character, and has just the right amount of Slavic, Middle Eastern, and Caucasus influence, making it one of the world’s most diverse and unique cuisines. I’m not even kidding – I put Georgian food right next to old school Mexican food slopped piping hot on a plate in a flickered light taqueria tucked away in Coyoacán CDMX, and nobody can change my mind. Anyway, you’re here for the food, right? This khinkali recipe is just what you need.
What is khinkali?
So, I guess you’re curious about khinkali. Khinkali are Georgian dumplings filled with meat and sometimes potatoes, mushrooms, or cheese. In Tbilisi and mountain villages alike, you’ll see these meaty pockets served piping hot everywhere. Today, we are going to be making kalakuri khinkali, which is meat and herb loaded khinkali that is simply unforgettable.
Where does khinkali come from?
Khinkali originated in the Mtiuleti, Pshavi, and Khevsureti regions of Georgia which sprawl the slopes of the Caucasus. In the winter, temps in these areas regularly sit around -15 c / 5 f and are virtually cut off from the rest of the nation by endless snowfall. Now, tell me, what’s more comforting in freezing weather rendering you invisible to the rest of the world than palm-sized dumplings packed with meat, juices, and herbs? History says that the mountain regions in Georgia got the idea for khinkali from the Mongols as they made their way west over the Silk Road – which the capital, Tbilisi, sits right on top of. No wonder khinkali is one of Georgia’s national dishes and is the first thing tourists are eager to try when they visit.
Whether you have visited Georgia or are just looking for a little oomph in your kitchen – this is the recipe for you. I took a cooking class from an old Georgian couple in Dzveli Tbilisi in January and have tweaked it at least a dozen times since to be sure I am bringing you the most practical, delicious khinkali while staying in line with tradition. So, let’s get to it.
Here’s what you’ll need for the dough:
4 c flour, 1 3/4 c warm water, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 egg
And most importantly, the filling:
500g beef pork mix, 1 3/4 c water, 1 large onion, 5 cloves garlic grated, 1 bunch cilantro, 1 bunch parsley, 1 tbsp black pepper, a pinch of salt plus more to taste
Now, the dough and meat both have rest time. So, I suggest prepping the dough first so that it can set while you mix the meat. Then while the meat sits, you can roll out the dough and prepare the khinkali circles.
Mix the dough
lightly beat an egg, add to the flour with salt and stir together. Add in warm/hot water and combine into a dough. Knead for 5 minutes – it should be a little tough at first. But just keep going 🙂 Once you’re done, set aside and let it rest for about 30 minutes.
Combine the filling ingredients
Add your ground meat, parsley, cilantro, onion, garlic, pepper, and salt and combine. Add in the water while you are mixing. Voila – set aside while you prep the dough.
Prepare the dough
Roll the dough out on a clean and lightly floured surface. The dough should be around 1/4 inch thick – use a cookie cutter, glass or whatever you’ve got on hand to cut circles. They’ll be small, don’t worry.
then roll out each individual piece until it’s thin/thick enough to hold and shape the khinkali. Should be larger than palm – around 4 inches in diameter.
Now for the fun part
Take a dough sheet and spoon around 1-2 tbsp of meat filling in the center and fold. To make the khinkali shape, start by pulling up one edge of the sheet, fold a small piece next to it, and pinch – do this until you complete the circle and close the khinkali. Be sure it is sealed.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil
Once the water is boiling, gently add the khinkali and allow them to boil for 13-15 minutes.
Now your khinkali is ready. Be sure to slurp out the juices and enjoy with a Georgian wine such as Saperavi. Or, if you’re feeling extra traditional, slosh it all down with some chacha. Grab the khinkali by the knob on top, bite and slurp – no forks allowed!
Kalakuri Khinkali Recipe
- 3 cups all purpose flour - plus more for dusting dough
- 1 cup cold water dough
- 1 egg beaten dough
- 1 tsp salt dough
- 300 grams ground beef/pork mix
- 1 3/4 cup water
- 1 large onion (diced very thinly)
- 4-5 medium garlic cloves (grated)
- 1 bunch cilantro (diced thinly)
- 1 bunch parsley (diced thinly)
- 1 tbsp black pepper
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 tsp crushed red pepper
- Start the dough by combining 2 cups of flour, salt and beaten egg. Add the cold water and mix until you get a kneadable dough. Gradually add the remaining flour as kneading. Have more flour on hand to knead - you want a dough thats stiff but not dry. Knead for 5 minutes, cover and set aside for 30 minutes.
- Add all of the filling ingredients together and combine - ground meat, garlic, onion, cilantro, parsley, salt, pepper, water.
- Roll out the dough to approx. 1/4 inch thick on a clean and floured surface.
- Take a cup or cookie cutter and make circles. They'll be small - it's ok.
- Roll out the circles to approx. 4 inches in diameter (see photos above for step by step instructions)
- Set a large pot to boil with a generous pinch of salt
- Add 1-2 tbsp of filling to the center of the dough sheet and fold. Do this by taking one piece of the edge and pinching it to the next. Repeat clockwise until khinkali is formed. (be sure they are sealed so the khinkali stays closed while cooking.
- Add khinkali to a few litres of boiling water in large pot and boil for 10-13 minutes. Dont crowd the pot.
- Serve immediately with black pepper and chacha (optional)